KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Germany’s football federation, self-proclaimed ‘largest sports association in the world’, is looking for its fourth president in seven years after the sudden resignation of Reinhard Grindel.
The 57-year-old stepped down amid a storm which exploded after revelations of his apparently hidden earnings from a subsidiary of the Deutsche Fussball-Bund.
A DFB statement said: “Until the annual council next September, the two first vice-presidents Dr Rainer Koch and Dr Reinhard Rauball will take over the leadership of the association on an interim basis.” Grindell will maintain, for the time being at least, his membership of the governing executive bodies of world federation FIFA and Europe’s UEFA.
The statement said he would work internationally “in close coordination” with the DFB.
Remarkably, in all the circumstances, Grindel chairs UEFA’s compliance committee.
Grindel abandoned national politics, where he was a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU, to take over the DFB in 2016. He promised a new era of clarity and transparency after both predecessors, Theo Zwanziger and then Wolfgang Niersbach, had fallen from grace over the 2006 World Cup bid scandal.
On taking over the DFB Grindel said he would be paid a monthly wage of €14,400. Last Friday, however, news magazine Der Spiegel reported that Grindel had been due a further €78,000 for the chairmanship of the DFB Medien GmbH subsidiary.
The final nail in his DFB coffin was a report in Bild that he had accepted the gift of a luxury watch as a birthday present from Ukrainian businessman and former FA supremo Grigory Surkis.
Grindel, when questioned, said he had not known originally that the watch was worth €6,000 and that he would now register its value with the German customs authorities and with the FIFA and UEFA ethics compliance departments.
Luxury watches are a never-ending source of scandal among senior football officials. In 2013 Bayern Munich ceo Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was fined €249,000 for importing two Rolex watches, said to be worth £84,000, after a trip to Qatar; a year later senior directors of FIFA were forced to hand in watches gifted to them by the Brazilian football confederation at the 2014 World Cup.
Grindel explained: “For me, this was a pure private gift, without any relation to the Ukrainian federation or even a business enterprise. I accepted the gift as a matter of the expected courtesy.”
He added: “You can believe me that since the weekend I have been shattered by the mistakes committed . . . The fact that I am so publicly exposed to such an act makes me stunned and sad and I ask for a fair assessment of my unfortunately only three-year term.”
Euro bid win
The one achievement of the former ZDF journalist and subsequent member of the Bundestag was in leading Germany’s successful bid last year to win host rights to the finals of the European Championship in 2024.
Fellow senior officials within the DFB have been disturbed by Grindel’s poor handling of the Mesut Ozil controversy before and after last year’s disastrous World Cup in Russia then over his comments concerning last month’s national team axing of veterans Mats Hummel, Thomas Muller and Jerome Boateng.
The DFB, founded in Leipzig in 1900, was recreated after World Cup II following its takeover by the National Socialist administration in the 1930s. Its 21 regional associations claim a total of more than 25,000 clubs with more than 6.8m members.
Memories of Germany’s highly-praised hosting of the World Cup in 2006 have been tarnished by a scandal over mystery payments which brought judicial, tax and FIFA investigations into the leadership roles played by bid leader Franz Beckenbauer and senior DFB officials Zwanziger, Niersbach and Horst R Schmidt.
Beckenbauer, Zwanziger and Niersbach are all past members of the executive committees of both FIFA and UEFA.